Editorial: June 9, 2023
Change is an uncomfortable condition for most people. That’s also true for kennel clubs. Look at the changes of dates and venues since the pandemic. The show calendar is still adjusting to them. But the kennel club that has created the most interest in its change of date and venue is the venerable Westminster Kennel Club. This is because of what the club means to our purebred dog community — the tradition, the respect and the lifeline it holds to the general public promoting purebed dogs. The club holds the most unique position in our sport, even the naysayers would agree. Circumstances beyond the club’s control had them abandon their longtime home, Madison Square Garden. So intertwined were these two that the Westminster Kennel Club and the Garden were one and the same. The renovation to the arena took away precious grooming space for the show. A daytime move to the Piers for breed judging and then a move to Madison Square Garden for evening groups and Best in Show judging seemed a viable solution. For two years (2019 and 2020) this plan worked. Then in 2021 the present pier was condemned and another pier replaced it, only to have the city put a limit on the amount of people that could be gathered in one location. Quick and imaginative thinking moved the show out of New York City, where there was a cap on the gatherings, to Lyndhurst, the former venue of the Westchester Kennel Club. This quick-thinking move allowed the club to hold a show in the 2021 calendar year to keep its position as the second oldest sporting event in the United States, only behind the Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs (where horse racing now has been suspended because of the 12 horses that had to be euthanized leading up to the big race). For two years Lyndhurst was a popular location, but it missed the verve and excitement and gate of New York City. That brought another move back to New York City, to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York, where the 2023 show was held just weeks ago. All the while the club has been trying to find a permanent solution for a permanent home. Not an enviable position, but one that is being addressed. So many variables and combinations to finding a suitable, sustainable location. There is only one Westminster, and there is only one New York, the city that never sleeps. So while these decisions are being made by the creative members who understand the tradition and respect that the club holds worldwide, we wait to see if indeed You Can Never Go Home Again … Or Can You? We think you can.